happy ten year anniversary to nomad podcast - it's wonderful and a massive achievement to have produced such an interesting and dynamic conversation, communication and community.
it explores christian faith in today's world. their strapline is stumbling through the post-christendom wilderness, looking for signs of hope. it's honest, searching, and on a genuine quest. each episode carries an in depth conversation with someone for about an hour and is topped and tailed by the hosts chatting about it. typically the people interviewed have published a book though not always. i have by no means listened to all the episodes but every so often catch up with it and dive in. sometimes i might listen to a big hitter like walter brueggemann but another time i stumble across someone i have never heard of because the theme grabs my attention. one of the recent ones i listened to was edwina gateley on missionaries, mystics and mother god which you have to listen to if you haven't. i loved her and her story - she is a northwestern english saint for sure. she probably wouldn't use the term but she is an incredible pioneer with some classic elements of a pioneer's journey in her story. i noticed she has a poetry collection called there was no path so i trod one! because they are not bound by the constraints of pleasing a political church environment or denomination there is a great freedom in exploring issues fearlessly and honestly - the interview with vicky beeching was one example of that. i have also had the honour of being interviewed a couple of times which i have enjoyed.
but rather than going through my favourite episodes to celbrate, i have been reflecting how people are interacting with it and how it is becoming quite a thing...
at one level it is just a podcast and because the content is consistently good it's growing followers. it helps that tom wright has been interviewed and drawn in listeners as is explained in their epic 10th anniversary edition of 3 hours and 37 minutes (i was driving to cumbria so found myself listening to the whole thing!).
at another level it is part of a changing environment in which people are working out how to follow christ and connect with others. there are huge numbers of people who follow christ but do not engage with traditional patterns of church attendance but they do meet with friends to discuss faith over coffee or the meal table, they listen to podcasts, they attend festivals and read books and chat online. the podcast interview with steve aisthorpe, the author of 'invisible church' really lifts the lid off this area of a new kind of practising of christian faith. the stats are huge on this in both the uk and america - there are a lot more followers of christ not in church on a sunday, not because they have given up but they are making faith in other ways and often because church as they have known it is not working for them any more. i have written elsewhere that this is one of the current mission movements that not many people are paying attention to.
for some of those people nomad and things like it are so helpful - people in that space identify with it and feel they are not alone or mad. nomad have developed a listener map so that you can add your postcode and then be connected with other listeners and there have been meet ups and gatherings. there is also now a listener lounge and a book club online.
it is also interesting to me that tim nash who is one of the key players and who puts energy into this full time (i think) was part of an experiment in the methodist church called venture fx who invested in around a dozen pioneers to go and experiment with new forms of church and mission over 5-10 years. this has allowed tim the space to invest in this which has been a great gift and i hope the methodists have taken note and are feeling good about it. in a year or two that money will run out so nomad have been developing a business model whereby people can donate and in exchange for that get access to the listener lounge and other content. i have no idea of the scale of that but it is an enterprise model along with some merch they are selling.
on monday we are hosting a conversation/research day on mission and church at cms which i am looking forward to (it's sold out so if you're not booked in there are now no spaces - sorry). i am looking forward to the day very much and it will be great to catch up with pete ward who is a good friend but now lives a long way away so i don't get to see enough! it seems to me that this is a great example of what he has called liquid ecclesiology. he has developed a way of thinking about christian community that takes seriously the fluid nature of culture. church is always constructed in relation to culture and must remake itself in every age. pete draws on missiologist lamin sanneh to suggest that the church tends to absolutise its own way of doing things and resists the call to translate afresh. but if the church is to move forward it must engage in that translation and needs prophets to lead her there.
anyway all that is to say that as best i can tell as i pay attention it seems to me that christ is present in what is spinning in and out of nomad. it is a kind of liquid ecclesiology as far as i can see, a translating afresh. on their tenth anniversary podcast a listener asks if it is church and they say it is just a podcast. i think that's a wise answer but it's not really true or at least there is a lot more going on! in parts of the church huge sums are being spent on big churches - we're talking millions of pounds on city centre buildings, staff, sound systems and so on. the rationale is that these churches will grow fast and reach new people and they will also then plant out other churches. i don't really want to get into a debate about that here. but i would imagine nomad is resourcing thousands of christians and seekers and it costs peanuts - well a salary.
anyway happy tenth anniversary nomad! thank you for what you do and make. i agree with a quote on the web site - flippin love nomad!